The Doctors: Aging & Balance
The Doctors met a woman named Shirlee who said her balance is getting shaky as she gets older. She has even had a few minor falls. She said she is even afraid to wash her feet in the shower, because she doesn’t want to fall over and hurt herself.
She joined The Doctors to get some tips on maintaining her balance during the golden years. Dr. Andrew Ordon said that surprisingly the key to good balance is your inner ear. “Your three semi-circular canals, that are oriented in three different planes…they’re like internal levelers,” he explained.
How Inner Ear Affects Balance
As your body moves around, the canals respond and communicate with the brain to keep you upright. It’s amazing that our body does all these amazing things automatically, without us even noticing most of the time.
Balance Loss Causes
Dr. Travis explained that aging is one of the primary causes of loss of balance. In fact, 1 in 3 adults over age 65 falls each year. That’s due to typical muscle loss associated with aging.
Falls cause 85% of fractures in seniors, and are a leading cause of spinal and brain injuries in the older population. Other balance loss causes include Parkinson’s Disease, Vertigo, and medication side effects.
Shirlee said she is taking medication, but doesn’t seem to be having balance-related side effects. Dr. Travis explained that proper blood flow is also important to maintaining balance.
How To Improve & Maintain Balance
One way you can help yourself or an older family member maintain balance is to always have something within reach that they can use to lean on if needed. That could be something as simple as a chair, which you can also use for balance exercises.
Dr. Andrew Ordon demonstrated an exercise that can improve your balance. Lean on the back of a straight back chair, with the seat facing away from you. Lift one knee, then lift the other knee. Breathe in as you lift, and exhale as you put the foot down.
Preventing Bathroom Falls
Dr. Travis said one third of falls occur in the bathroom, which can be extremely dangerous. Dr. Andrew said most tubs require you to step up at least 18 inches. I’m relatively young, and that can seem like a big step sometimes.
The Drs: Comfort Walk In Tub Review
Dr. Andrew Ordon showed off the new Comfort Walk In Tub that can help prevent falls. Installing this type of tub gives you a hinged, water sealed door, allowing you to get in and out of the tub without making that huge step over the side.
The tub sells for around $14,000, but Comfort Walk In Tubs Direct hooked Shirlee up with a free tub.
You can find more info about their tubs online at comfortwalkintubs.com.
The Doctors: Aging Gracefully
Dr. Travis said it’s possible to age gracefully. Prevention and maintenance are great ways to keep your body active and in shape. “Once you start to lose things like your balance and your eyesight, things become very difficult,” Dr. Travis said.
Taking action earlier in life can help you reap the health benefits throughout your life. The Doctors agreed that it’s never too early to make healthy choices and take care of yourself.